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Despicable Me 2 – Movie Review

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Despicable Me 2 – Movie Review

Rating: B (Good)

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Despicable Me had a cute premise with plenty of funny sight gags, but the aspect that most people understandably love are those little, yellow Minions. For the sequel, the filmmakers have expanded their role considerably and they are the main reason this breezy and charming animated film is consistently hilarious. However, there are enough humourous moments in the rest of Despicable Me 2 that this becomes a satisfying follow-up on the par with the first film. However, as entertaining as Gru, the girls and new addition Lucy Wilde are, the stars are definitely the Minions.

 With their creation and voicing of the Minions, directors Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin have struck a comedy goldmine, immediately creating animated icons. With their simplistic and cute designs and gibberish speak, the Minions provide multiple opportunities for humour and whenever they are onscreen, they never get tiring or lose their comedic timing and skill. The physical mayhem they enact is frequently hilarious and even scenes that have no bearing on the overall plot, like a random and wild ice cream party, produces big laughs. The Minions’ rendition of “YMCA” is even the rare time where the clichéd dance party ending that occasionally pops up in animated features induces more smiles than groans. Unlike the first film, where the Minions were merely comic relief, they are actually pivotal plot points in Despicable Me 2 that figure prominently in the villain’s plan. This leads to further funny usages for the Minions and it’s no surprise they will receive their own starring vehicle next year, due to how much they steal the show in both Despicable Me pictures.

 The spy plot is nicely mixed into the main love story and the development between Gru and Lucy is very sweet in its execution. The writers Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul even manage to tie this together with little Agnes’s small subplot, in which she searches for a potential mother figure. While Lucy’s addition is obvious from the beginning, it still makes for an entertaining journey getting there. A large reason for that is Kristen Wiig’s energetic voice-over performance as Lucy, making her a likeable and fun new character to the Despicable Me cast. She brings a lot of the same note-perfect comedic delivery she has brought to Lola Bunny on the new Looney Tunes Show. Like that animated rabbit, Wiig helps makes what could have been a dull and obvious character an endearing scene-stealer. The storyboard artists and animators also have plenty of fun with their individual movements and ticks perfectly matching to Wiig’s recordings.

 Where Despicable Me 2 is most tried-and-true is with the villain, who has a standard “take over the world” plot, but the incorporation of the Minions into that plan makes it more enjoyable than it could have been. The writers even throw an obvious Red Herring in our direction, but it’s a minor story point and meant to show Gru’s growth from super-villain to secret agent. A cunning chicken proves especially humourous in its interactions with Gru and Lucy, showing animation’s ability at making even the most innocent creature villainous. I did not find the new villain as funny as Vector was in the first Despicable Me, but it is evident the writers had fun putting together his delightfully over-the-top personality.

 The action sequences showcase how far computer animation can advance in three years, with each providing a fun ride. The European-influenced look of this French-made production also gives Despicable Me 2 a unique flavour that sets it apart from the other competitors this summer. It is refreshing how each major animation studio these days has their own individual style, rather than copying what the other hit-makers are doing. With their small catalogue, Illumination-Mac Guff have certainly established themselves as very artistic and creative folks and Despicable Me 2 nicely continues their top-quality visual work. The slapstick is certainly inventive and frequently humourous, as is the dialogue, and extra credit should definitely go to character designer Carter Goodrich for his ensemble’s visually appealing style. Following in the footsteps of masters like Ub Iwerks and Matt Groening, the Despicable Me characters have been constructed to be instantly recognised by simply their silhouette.

Despicable Me 2 does not re-write the animation rule book and the story follows the expected path, but the team behind the film throw enough inventive humour and cute character moments to put it on-par with the first adventure. However, the Minions are worth the price of admission alone. I honestly feel those little, yellow Twinkies will one day stand alongside the likes of Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny and Tom & Jerry as some of the funniest and finest animated characters in the history of the medium, being passed on from generation to generation as comedic icons. This statement may sound hyperbolic, but I stand by that prediction and their scenes in Despicable Me 2 alone are enough to back it up.

Review By: Stefan Ellison


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